The rates reach as high as 78% for less radical procedures, such as lumpectomies and so-called subtotal mastectomies.
In the late 1990s New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey passed laws regulating the length of postoperative hospital stays for breast cancer patients. However, it definitely matters where a breast-cancer surgical patient receives her procedure, since the rate of drive-through mastectomies varies by state. Equally, it matters what kind of insurance the patient has; HMO patients are up to 60% more likely to get drive-through treatment than patients who have traditional coverage.
It is a scandal that insurance companies have so markedly affected the structure of postoperative health-care delivery for a condition as serious as breast cancer, and even more scandalous that Americans are at the mercy of geography when it comes to the prospect of a mastectomy. That is why federal legislation, which would set up a national standard of care, is so necessary.
As a registered nurse and member of the American Nurses Association, I have seen many surgical patients discharged from hospital care prematurely because insurance coverage is truncated at the sole discretion of hospital administrators or insurance officials. Nursing care in particular has been devalued. The highest-qualified nurses--RNs and nurse practitioners--are often hit by downsizing and cost cutting that accompany M&A activity, since organizations